Sunday, November 6, 2011

Review: American Horror Story "Halloween Part 1"

Non Spoiler Review:
It's Halloween, when the dead are allowed to roam freely (even more than is normal for American Horror Story). It's become a habit to say each episode is absolutely insane, so lets just accept it as the standard, because this one delivered another, coming off the heels of Hayden's unexpected murder last week.

The realtor suggests the Harmons hire some fluffers (to decorate the home for viewings) so as to better portray the murder house to potential buyers. That brings in Chad (Zachary Quinto) and Patrick, the very same couple we get to see murdered in the prologue. And guess what? Their murder-suicide did not unfold as we were led to believe. Meanwhile, Larry wants his money. Ben tries desperately to juggle all his lies and they come back in a big way. Adelaide just wants to go out for Halloween as a pretty girl, despite her mother. All that leads to a glorious mess for the second half, with a mix of comedy, insanity and heartbreak.

There's a pretty major death here that delivers quite an emotional blow. I'm still sad about it, and not sure how it's going to fit into the show's mythos going forward. The scenes this week were very intense (Vivien and Ben battling it out, and Connie and Adelaide delivering some really nasty quips at one another). In contrast, the addition of Zachary Quinto was perfect, and he really balanced the show out with some much needed humour. This week had it all. 

Spoilers Now!
2010. And the house is inhabited by the murder-suicide fancy gentlemen. Chad is a fanatical Halloween lover but his partner, Patrick, craves a relationship with a man, not Martha Stewart. All of their money is in the house but they can't flip it because of the damn economy. Patrick laments who they've become, and all the plans they never saw fulfilled. After Patrick leaves, Chad sees the rubber man (and of course thinks it's Patrick). He apologizes for his attitude. But rubber man tosses Chad around the kitchen and drowns him in his pail of apples. Patrick walks in and finds the two of them. End of scene.

Vivien chides Marcie the realtor for only having one person in to see the house. She says the house has an image problem (in fact it was egged the previous night by the ginger twins!). So it needs a fluffer (people to come in to give a dash of style to the place). She suggests they decorate for Halloween and get the neighbourhood talking how nice the place is. She knows a gay fellow.

Connie's young beau, Travis (who really seems like a nice guy), reads a book on Halloween to Adelaide, and the two seem to be getting on fine as Connie walks in. She sends him away to get chocolate chips. Connie lights in to Adelaide and accuses her of mooning over him. She tells her mother he smells better than the last one. Connie venomously tells her she gave her entire life to her but she will not share the affections of a man with anyone. She then asks what she plans to dress up as. Adelaide wants to be a pretty girl. Connie tells her she'll go as Snoopy or not at all. The dead walk freely on Halloween, Adelaide adds cryptically, and Connie is all, well, duh!

Larry shows up on Ben's doorstep and wants his thousand dollars. Ben throws him off his property again but Larry asks if he wants to call the cops. Maybe he didn't get the proper permits for his gazebo? Ben says he's done talking and walks away. 

Ben is meeting with Tate again because he never saw his new psychiatrist. Despite being grateful to him for helping at the home invasion, he wants to know what he was doing in the house. Tate lies about hanging around outside and noticed the door was unlocked and went inside. Tate manipulates him into seeing him again.

Vivien had hired a security agency to outfit the house, so meets with her security man on all the equipment. She later walks in on Moira carving pumpkins. She says Marcie brought them. Moira wants Halloween off to visit with her mother. Vivien walks outside with the pumpkin and runs into Chad and Patrick. She asks if they're the fluffers. They come in with her. 

Ben is actually enjoying the Halloween preparations, and he, Vivien, Chad and Patrick are carving pumpkins. But the gays are firing snarky comments at one another. Chad declares the gazebo has to go, and asks if it was one of Ben's DIY projects. He suggests an organic garden instead. Ben abruptly cuts himself on the knife. Patrick is an EMT, so looks after him in the bathroom, but decides he really wants to look after him and grabs his crotch. Ben rebuffs him. Patrick apologies. It's been a long time. 

Chad thinks Ben is behaving very nervous. Vivien suggests Chad and Patrick are having problems themselves. Chad explains he caught him cheating. She wants to know how. Cell phone records, Chad declares. He can't erase the bill.

Violet is surprised by Adelaide in her room. She wants to be made a pretty girl for Halloween, so Violet makes her up. She asks if Tate's her boyfriend. And if she's a virgin, as Adelaide is not, apparently. Violet tells her she can't keep breaking in, but Adelaide protests her friends are there. She's impressed with how beautiful she looks.

But Connie is not impressed. Adelaide refuses to wash the makeup off. Connie viciously tells her that she makes other people feel lucky and see Connie as a hero, as if she had a choice in raising her daughter.

Violet goes to the basement to find Tate, but instead sees the rubber man. But it's just Tate scaring her, and he says he found the costume. He then brings out a Ouija board. Violet is still curious as to what he did to the people who attacked her. And what's really in the basement?

Tate gives her answers, and explains Charles Montgomery worked in the basement, but he was a drug addict. One girl he performed an abortion on told her boyfriend what happened. Nora then got a phone call from the man threatening the family, and when she rushed up to the baby's room, she found him gone.

They waited for the ransom demand but instead got a visit from the police who showed Charles a box full of cut up baby parts in jars. Charles was consumed by grief and set about to cheat death, sewing the pieces back together. He created a monstrous thing that remained even after his parents' own tragic end. 

Violet thinks he's full of shit. She's tired of hanging out there and wants to go on a real date, so he suggests tomorrow night. Ben later meets with Tate at school. But the session doesn't end up being about Tate, as Ben breaks down and curiously admits to being a troubled kid, too, like him. 

Connie comes into Adelaide's room, but her daughter's not wanting to go trick or treating now. Her mother's changed her tune and brought her a pretty girl mask. Now she doesn't have to worry about makeup. Adelaide is very happy. 

Ben is dressed as a vampire for the night. Vivien is not at all in the mood, and sarcastically asks him how Hayden is. She told him they were done if he lied again, and now her number is on his phone bills. He claims he ignores her messages but she keeps phoning—but she won't be calling back. Vivien says she left her a message. He apologizes for not telling her but didn't want to add more stress and assures her she has every right to react as she did. Hayden is over. His phone rings and she looks at it. It's Hayden. She tells him to call her back.

Chad hates both their costumes, and is being fanatical about his decorations. Vivien suggests he's over reacting. Chad wants them to leave and declares it's not their house. The house knows it and they don't deserve it. 

Vivien freaks out and tears up all the decorations. Chad suddenly spies the rubber man through the crack in the door, so the two men leave right away. Vivien tells Ben she doesn't believe him anymore and doesn't want to live with this suspicion. He has to go.

Then she starts to get cramps like the baby's kicking (which is impossible because it's eight weeks old). They tell Violet they're going to the hospital and not to answer the door.

Adelaide (in mask) shows up at the Harmons but Violet doesn't hear the bell. She wants her to see her costume, but then runs after some other trick or treaters. She gets hit by a car.

At the hospital Vivien gets an ultrasound. The baby seems to be a lot bigger than eight weeks. Then the jovial nurse sees something on the screen and she abruptly faints.

Connie finds Adelaide as the ambulance arrives. Hysterical, Connie wants to know if she's died. She has to get her to the lawn, so Connie drags her off the street, but her daughter is already gone.

At a seniors home, Moira visits her mother, who is on life support. She feels it's her fault for not being there for her, and disconnects the oxygen to euthanize her. Behind her stands her mother, who asks her daughter to come with her. Moira desperately wants to, but she can't, and cries. 

Violet hears the doorbell and Larry yelling outside wanting his money. She calls her father and he tells her it's one of his clients and just to keep the door closed. She backs away, and behind her the rubber man is standing in the doorway.

Ben arrives home with Vivien and the house alarm is going, but Violet is gone. There's a knock at the door. It's Hayden, looking a little worse for wear.

The Verdict:
It's apparent that each episode is going to overflow with crazy and plot development, but this one was really heartbreaking. Adelaide was such a great character and foil to play off of Jessica Lange (and tonight the two of them delivered some chilling barbs), I'm really sad to see her killed. Though her death was quite effective, I don't know if Connie got her to the lawn on time. 

Two flashbacks provided a considerable infodump—Chad and Patrick were both murdered by the rubber man. So who is he? And should we read anything into Tate putting on the costume? The other regarded Charles and Nora (courtesy of Tate) and the death of their child—the monster in the basement. So he's basically Frankenstein's monster and ninety years old. Is he a ghost or something else that allows him to survive? Who is Tate that allows him to know so much about the house?

Halloween apparently allows the dead to rise all over the place—this is the first we see Moira outside of the house and property, and she's used the opportunity to visit her mother and end her life.

What are we to interpret from Ben talking about his poor childhood? I had a thought last week that he might be Connie's disappointing child she lamented to Vivien about. He seemed to take Tate back pretty quickly, but he's pretty vulnerable at the moment and hasn't expressed the most sound judgement so far anyway. His reaction to Patrick's sexual advance was pretty funny given Ben's inability to control his cheating. So it was nice to see the tables turned on him.

I will admit to loving Vivien's crazy pregnancy. Only two months or so have passed as far as story time, apparently, but the nurse fainting was hilarious. In fact, there were so many fun bits thrown in it's worth a rewatch to catch them—Chad's arrangement of the skeletons, the nurse frantically seeing to the man with the broken leg thinking he has a head wound. There were also some sweet moments, too—Violet making up Adelaide and Travis' rapport with her when Connie wasn't around. He seems like a nice guy, so he's likely going to die very soon.

Hayden's appearance is an effective shocker. Certainly she will be crazier dead than she was alive. One thing is evident—it's not going to be possible to continue to keep the Harmons in the dark about the supernatural goings on much longer given they're engaging with ghosts on a daily basis these days. Their marriage is hanging by a thread too. I'm really pleased that this show doesn't pull a Lost and leave plot threads dangling endlessly.

Part two feels like it's going to be another roller coaster ride, and I'm anxiously waiting to see how Connie deals with her daughter's death (and if Adelaide suddenly pops up in the house).

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...